Domestic violence and abuse

Part of: Police engagement with women and girls Protecting people from violence and abuse

Protecting vulnerable people is at the core of police and fire & rescue services’ duty. The purpose of HMICFRS’s inspection of police forces’ response to domestic abuse is to drive forward improvements, bring perpetrators to justice and protect victims from harm.

We are focusing on working with our partners to improve the support available to domestic abuse victims through the criminal justice system.

This page sets out:

Lead on domestic abuse: HMI Roy Wilsher

HMI Roy Wilsher took over as the lead of the inspectorate’s work on improving the police response to domestic abuse in October 2021. He joined the inspectorate from the National Fire Chiefs Council after a 40 career in the fire service. Roy intends to build on the work already done by HMICFRS which includes an annual review of how domestic abuse is approached by police forces.

Background

At the time of writing, there has been a 180 percent increase in the recording of domestic abuse since the first annual report was published in 2014. This is partly as a result of improved understanding and identification of domestic abuse. But there is also a tangible priority focus on domestic abuse across all forces which can be seen in the specialist training offered to officers. The number of perpetrators arrested has consistently risen, as have the use of protective powers such as prevention orders and disclosures.

The priority and understanding that police forces now have in regard to domestic abuse was particularly evident in the proactive and innovative ways the police responded to domestic abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While there are still areas for improvement that will continue to be scrutinised, there have been significant strides made in highlighting this often hidden crime and protecting those who experience it from harm.

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Our reports

HMICFRS-led reports on this subject, in order of publication:

Everyone’s business: Improving the police response to domestic abuse – 27 March 2014

In September 2013, the Home Secretary commissioned us to conduct an inspection on the police response to domestic abuse. We were asked to report on:

  • the effectiveness of the police approach to domestic violence and abuse, focusing on the outcomes for victims and whether risks to victims of domestic violence and abuse are well managed;
  • lessons learnt from how the police approach domestic violence and abuse; and
  • recommendations about these findings, when considered alongside current practice.

We found that, overall, the police response to victims of domestic abuse was not good enough and forces needed to take decisive action to rectify this.

Increasingly everyone’s business: A progress report on the police response to domestic abuse – 15 December 2015

Between June and August 2015, we visited every police force in England and Wales to assess the progress they had made since we published ‘Everyone’s business’.

We found that the police service acted on the messages of ‘Everyone’s business’, and made tackling domestic abuse an important priority. This resulted in better support for and protection of victims. However, we found there were still areas for improvement in the way the police responded to, supported and protected domestic abuse victims. We made a series of recommendations.

A progress report on the police response to domestic abuse – 14 November 2017

As part of our 2016 PEEL effectiveness inspection, we assessed all 43 Home Office-funded forces in England and Wales on the improvements made in their approach to domestic abuse.

We reviewed the findings of our 2014 and 2015 inspections, and assessed the progress that forces had made on implementing their action plans. Our inspection teams were supplemented by experts in the field of domestic abuse. These included public protection specialists from police forces and domestic abuse practitioners from voluntary and community sector organisations.

The police response to domestic abuse: An update report – 26 February 2019

Since March 2014, when we published ‘Everyone’s business’, the service the police give to victims of domestic abuse improved markedly. Victims were now better supported and better protected.

In this update report we didn’t make national recommendations to forces. But we did comment on progress made since our previous reports.

Review of policing domestic abuse during the pandemic – 23 June 2021

We examined how the police responded to the unique challenges the COVID-19 pandemic placed on preventing and responding to domestic abuse.

This review expanded on the findings in our policing COVID-19 report, highlighting good practice and innovation. We also made three recommendations aimed at ensuring forces continued to respond to the challenges of policing this crime during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

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News

The police have shown they are dedicated to protecting victims of domestic abuse, but we still have some concerns about the longer-term response.

You can find all our press releases on this subject in the News section.

Getting help

If you are, or someone you know is, a victim of domestic abuse or violence, find out how to report domestic abuse and where to get help.

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